Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (song)
|"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"|
|Single by Gene Autry|
|B-side||If It Doesn't Snow on Christmas"
"Here Comes Santa"
"Here Comes Santa Claus
|Released||September 1, 1949|
|Recorded||June 27, 1949|
"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a song written by Johnny Marks based on the 1939 story Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer published by the Montgomery Ward Company. Gene Autry's recording hit No. 1 on the U.S. charts the week of Christmas 1949.
In 1939 Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May, created the character Rudolph as an assignment for Montgomery Ward, and Marks decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into a song. Marks (1909–1985) was a radio producer who also wrote several other popular Christmas songs.
The song had an added introduction, paraphrasing the poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" (public domain by the time the song was written), stating the names of the eight reindeer which went:
"You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen,
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?"
The song was first sung by crooner Harry Brannon on New York City radio in early November 1949, before Gene Autry's recording hit No. 1 in the U.S. charts during Christmas 1949. Autry's version of the song also holds the distinction of being the only chart-topping hit to fall completely off the chart after reaching No. 1. The official date of its No. 1 status was for the week ending January 7, 1950, making it the first No. 1 song of the 1950s.
The song was also performed on the December 6, 1949, Fibber McGee and Molly radio broadcast by Teeny (Marion Jordan's little girl character) and The Kingsmen vocal group. The lyrics varied greatly from the Autry version. Autry's recording sold 1.75 million copies its first Christmas season, eventually selling a total of 12.5 million. Cover versions included, sales exceed 150 million copies, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas".
Current owner of copyrights is Kobalt Music Group
Other notable recordings
- 1950: The song was recorded by Bing Crosby on June 22, 1950 with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. His version reached No. 6 on Billboard magazine's Best Selling Children's Records chart and No. 14 on Billboard's pop singles chart that year.
- 1950: Spike Jones and his City Slickers released a version of the song that peaked at No. 7 on Billboard magazine's pop singles chart and No. 8 on Billboard's Best Selling Children's Records chart.
- 1951: Red Foley and The Little Foleys released a version of the song that peaked at No. 8 on Billboard magazine's Best Selling Children's Records chart.
- 1957: The Cadillacs released a doo-wop version of the song that peaked at No. 11 on Billboard magazine's Rhythm & Blues Records chart.
- 1959: Dean Martin recorded the song for his album, A Winter Romance.
- 1959: Perry Como included the song in his album Season's Greetings from Perry Como.
- 1960: Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded a popular cover for their album Around the World with The Chipmunks. They would record the song again for their 1961 album Christmas with The Chipmunks and their 1994 album A Very Merry Chipmunk as a duet with Gene Autry.
- 1960: The Melodeers released a doo-wop version of the song that peaked at No. 72 on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 singles chart.
- 1960: Ella Fitzgerald included the song in her album Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.
- 1963: Johnny Mathis included the song in his album Sounds of Christmas.
- 1964: Burl Ives recorded the song for the soundtrack of the holiday TV special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The soundtrack album containing Ives' version reached No. 142 on the Billboard 200 albums sales chart. He would re-record the song the following year for his holiday album Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.
- 1968: The Temptations released a version of the song that peaked at No. 12 on Billboard magazine's special, year-end, weekly Christmas Singles chart (this same version later got as high as No. 3 on the same chart in December 1971). Their version of the song was also included on the group's 1970 Christmas album, The Temptations Christmas Card.
- 1970: The Jackson 5 recorded the song for their holiday album, The Jackson 5 Christmas Album.
- 1990: Dolly Parton recorded the song for her holiday album, Home for Christmas.
- 1995: Mannheim Steamroller produced a techno-like synth-driven arrangement on their album Christmas in the Aire.
- 1996: The Wiggles performed the song from Wiggly, Wiggly Christmas album.
- 1998: Randy Travis performed the song during the opening titles of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie.
- 2001: Hi-5 performed the song from It's a Hi-5 Christmas album.
- 2001: Tony Bennett performed the song at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, ahead of the release of the direct-to-video CGI animated feature, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.
In popular culture
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The lyric "All of the other reindeer" can be misheard in dialects with the cot–caught merger as the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer", and has given rise to another character featured in her own Christmas television special, Olive, the Other Reindeer.
- ASCAP Work ID: 480058686 (ISWC: T0701273995)
- Kim, Wook (December 17, 2012). "Yule Laugh, Yule Cry: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Beloved Holiday Songs". Time. Archived from the original on December 21, 2014.
- Casey Kasem American Top 40 April 8, 1979
- Badger, Reid; Salem, James (December 22, 1996). "America's Holiday Sound– Distinctive artists". The Tuscaloosa News. Google News. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
- Jackson, Kenneth T. (August 15, 1998). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 1. Gale. p. 550. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
, while Autry's version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" sold more than 12.5 million copies
- "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 19, 2016.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Christmas in the Charts (1920–2004). Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 31. ISBN 0-89820-161-6.
- Whitburn p. 43
- Whitburn p. 36
- Whitburn p. 25
- Whitburn p. 49
- "'Burl Ives' Billboard 200". billboard.com.
- Whitburn p. 61
- Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
- Reno erat Rudolphus, Sheet music in Latin with recorded Gregorian Chant
- Translation into Old English by Philip Chapman-Bell
"Mule Train" by Frankie Laine
|U.S. Billboard Best Sellers in Stores number-one single
January 7, 1950 (Gene Autry)
"I Can Dream, Can't I" by The Andrews Sisters